Mocking the Chicago Bears 2018 draft

Denzel Ward CB Ohio State

Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

 

The all-star games are long past, the combine is history, and pro days are in the books. With the NFL Draft right around the corner, the Chicago Bears and 31 other NFL teams are cross-checking their draft boards and scouting reports once more until draft night.

Here’s one observer’s guess how Bears General Manager Ryan Pace and his front-office react during the three-day talent grab bag.

Round 1 (8th overall)  Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State….Lacking the draft capital to move up and with top-shelf talents such as Saquon Barkley, Bradley Chubb, and Quenton Nelson off the board, the Bears think about trading down but ultimately boost their secondary with the selection of Ward.  Ward is a fluid press corner with long arms, quick feet and fine ball instincts.  He played in the shadow of fellow Buckeye pros Gareon Conley, Marshon Lattimore, Eli Apple, but Ward emerged as a feisty defender who battles receivers with a mix of confidence and swagger.

Ward played three seasons with the Buckeyes before electing to forego his senior season to make himself available for the 2018 NFL Draft. This after he had an outstanding junior season in 2017, earning consensus All-America honors and first-team all-Big Ten accolades after recording 17 passes defensed with 15 pass break-ups and two interceptions, including one interception in the Big Ten championship game win over Wisconsin. The 17 passes defended is the fourth-highest single season total in school history. Ward had five pass break-ups, and six passes defensed, in the season opener against Indiana and he made one of the biggest plays of the year in the 39-38 win over Penn State: blocking a fourth-quarter punt with the Buckeyes down by 15.

Round 2 (39th overall)  Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State…Hubbard is a solid meat and potatoes rushman who could flourish as a pass rusher at the next level.  A long and lean (6-5, 265) athlete, Hubbard ranks 15th all-time at Ohio State in both quarterback sacks with 17.0 and tackles-for-loss yardage with 154. He contributed 29.5 total tackles for loss during his career and 116 tackles. He also had an interception, three pass break-ups, two fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles. A former Academic All-American, Hubbard demonstrates fine instincts and is always around the ball.  Lacks the quick-twitch explosive get-off that separates top edge rushers, but makes up for it with a determined and workmanlike approach.  Hubbard is the kind of player one has to watch over time to fully appreciate. May never be an All-Pro but will become a ten-year starter and key contributor.

Round 3 (no choice, traded to San Francisco)

Round 4 (105th overall) Alex Cappa, OT, Humboldt State…Cappa’s stock rose through 2017, culminating with a invitation to the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine.  Fine size (6-7, 305) and dominated at a low level of competition. Won conference’s “Lineman of the Year” award four consecutive seasons. Displayed an aggressive and rugged approach when matched against better talent in the Senior Bowl.  Light on his feet for a big man and rarely got knocked off-balance. Better in pass protect.  Fundamentals are good, but needs refinement. With his size, needs to work to stay low and not lose his leverage.  Best at right tackle.  Needs a year of development with pro coaching and weight room structure but will become an eventual starter. A Gene Upshaw Award National Finalist (2016).

Round 4 (115th overall) Simmie Cobbs, WR, Indiana….Cobbs bypassed his senior year after catching 72 balls for 841 yards and 8 touchdowns for the Hoosiers.  Fine size and catch radius. Lacks deep speed, but gets open and is deceptively quick.  Gets the better of defenders on 50/50 balls with fine leaping ability. Cobbs will make the acrobatic catch but can drop an occasional easy ball. Became more consistent in 2017 and is at his best on fade patterns and out routes where he can screen defensive backs with his body.  Good, not great hands. Had some minor indiscretions during his time with the Hoosiers and must realize he’s no longer on scholarship.  Displays similarities to former  Bear and current Eagle Alshon Jeffery.  Willing blocker and competitive…wants the ball and can be a playmaker. Ceiling appears to be as a solid number two receiver.

Round 5 (145th overall) Josey Jewell, LB, Iowa...Jewell is a blue-collar mike who is passionate and determined to make plays.  Lacks the top-end athletic traits and will get pushed down the draft board, but a throwback player who can shed blockers and make the play based on his desire and competitiveness.  High football intelligence and team leader with great intangibles. Led Big Ten in tackles (136) and ranked fourth nationally in tackles per game (11.3). Highly productive and reliable. Started 37 straight games for the Hawkeyes.  Didn’t run well at the combine, but in a confined space, sheds the trash and locates the ball.  Demonstrated he’s not a liability in pass coverage, witnessed by the fact he collected two interceptions, 11 pass break-ups, one forced fumble and one recovered fumble in 2017. Physical and inspirational leader.

Round 6 (181st overall) Darrel Williams, RB, LSU…Williams was slotted behind Derrius Guice and Leonard Fournette at LSU, but played well when given an opportunity. As a senior, he started in several games in place of an injured Guice.  Against Ole Miss, he became the first player in LSU history to record at least 100 rushing yards and 100 receiving yards in the same game. Earned an invitation to the Senior Bowl and displayed solid hands and inside run skills. Honored as LSU’s Most Valuable Player in 2017.  Amassed 1,651 yards rushing and 19 TDs … Added 38 receptions for 462 yards … On any other team, would have been the featured back and a 1,000-yard rusher … True team player that can do it all from the running back position – talented runner, dominant blocker and exceptional receiver … Finished his career ranked No. 21 in school history in rushing yards.

Round 7 (224 overall) Anthony Wimbush, OLB, Ball State…Ball State’s Most Outstanding Player and first team All-MAC….undersized defensive lineman (6-1, 241) with pass rush ability who will be converted to outside linebacker. Displays some get off and can attack the passer. Highly productive. Started all 12 games in 2017 and recorded at least one sack in seven contests with career-high three sacks at Illinois on Sept. 2 . Equaled the Ball State career record for sacks (25) on Nov. 16 versus Buffalo. Ranked among the national leaders in sacks (11.5 – 4th), forced fumbles (5 – 1st) and tackles for loss (16.5 – 19th).  Fourth on squad in tackles (51) and is around the ball. Has thick, lower trunk and resembles former Bear Pernell McPhee in physique. Projects as situational pass rusher and core special teams player.

 

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